A former San Diego State University student who was falsely accused of sexual assault has settled his lawsuit against the university.
As reported by the Reader, Francisco Sousa was accused of sexual assault on a fellow student in December 2014. Campus police arrested Sousa but no charges were ever filed. During its investigation Sousa says college administrators refused to allow him to provide evidence, including several posts on social media, that showed the woman had falsely accused him and in fact the relationship was consensual. Sousa was placed on temporary suspension, forced to miss two semesters and later forced to transfer. In June 2015, seven months after the alleged incident, San Diego State concluded its investigation, ultimately finding Sousa was not guilty of sexual assault.
Sousa sued the university in 2015.
Now, nearly two years after the investigation concluded, Sousa can put an end to the ordeal.
The terms of the settlement, says Sousa, requires San Diego State to pay an undisclosed amount of money for attorney's fees and other damages. In addition, the college will send employees, as well as campus police, who deal with sexual assault claims on campus, also known as Title IX investigations, for more detailed training. Lastly, the school will give Sousa an "certificate of detention" exonerating him of any allegations.
"What I initially thought would be a quick misunderstanding turned into a living nightmare," says Sousa in an April 28 email. "I was accused of a crime I didn’t commit. No policeman came to my house, and even before being questioned by the police my name appeared in a mass crime alert email sent by the university. I was used as an example to silence the uproar from those who demanded action against all the true sexual assaults being committed on campus at that time."
Sousa says that while happy to be able to repay his family for some of the costs of the lawsuit, the larger victory was that San Diego State employees will now undergo additional training to avoid this from happening again.
"This was a great accomplishment, my hope is that this training will improve their handling of sexual assault cases, not only so what happened to me doesn't happen to someone else, but we also have to understand that I am not the only victim here: real sexual assault victims also suffer when people like [the woman] lie, and it's important for them to know that they can come forward."
Sousa, however, remains haunted by the ordeal.
"It’s unreal to see how my life was drastically changed due to a false accusation and how it has and will impact me in 1, 2, 10, 30 years, when I’m looking for a job or my kids google their dad’s name. The [woman's] lies and the misdeeds of San Diego State can’t ever be erased, nor the damage caused ever heal, but I am glad that is all over, and I am vindicated."